Matt Moore Rumors
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that Royals GM Dayton Moore is "feeling the heat," in the sense that many want the team to use their prospect base to acquire veterans who can help them win now like the Blue Jays did with their recent blockbuster. Here's more from Rosenthal on Kansas City...
- Even after acquiring Ervin Santana, the Royals can still fit a free agent like Jeremy Guthrie into their payroll on a back-loaded, multiyear contract.
- The Mariners covet Billy Butler and would conceivably part with young, high-end pitching to acquire him. Butler is under contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015, though the Royals are unsure if they have enough offense to move him right now.
- The Rays like top prospect Wil Myers, though the Royals are conflicted about moving him even for a pitcher like Jeremy Hellickson or Matt Moore.
- The Astros could be another trade partner for Kansas City since the price to acquire Bud Norris or Lucas Harrell would be lower than it would be for Hellickson or Moore. The impact would be less too, however.
- Moore is under contract through 2014 and does not appear to be in danger of losing his job, says Rosenthal.
Of the nine players who received qualifying offers this offseason, Rafael Soriano is viewed within the game as having taken the biggest financial risk by declining according to Joel Sherman of The New York Post. Teams don't want to invest big in closers because of their volatility now more than ever, especially after year one of the Heath Bell contract. Here are the rest of Sherman's rumors...
- The Yankees are privately pleased that Soriano opted out of his $14MM salary for next season. They'll allocate those dollars elsewhere and could use a portion of it on a reliever to replace Soriano.
- The feeling at the GM Meetings was that the Rays are much more open to trading a starting pitcher for offense than they have been in the past. They would talk about James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, and even Matt Moore in the right deal.
- In the wake of Jason Bay's departure from the Mets, Sherman points out that Tyler Colvin (.150 AVG in 2011) and Andruw Jones (.158 AVG in 2008) are two recent examples of outfielders who turned things around following dreadful seasons. Bay hit .158 this year.
The Rays are saying they’d move any pitcher except David Price and Matt Moore, but Shields is the most likely one to be traded, Knobler tweets. The Angels have discussed a package that includes center fielder Peter Bourjos and catcher Hank Conger. However, they were rebuffed when they offered Bourjos for Shields, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.
Shields earns $7MM in 2012 and his contract includes club options for 2013 ($9MM with a $1.5MM buyout) and 2014 ($12MM with a $1MM buyout). Shields, the third-place finisher in last year's AL Cy Young voting, has completed at least 200 innings in every one of his five full seasons. The 30-year-old has a 4.39 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 131 1/3 innings so far in 2012.
If the Dodgers are worth $2.15 billion, what are the Yankees worth? Here are some AL East-related notes, starting in the Bronx...
- The Astros and Orioles have some interest in Yankees outfielder Justin Maxwell, but haven’t discussed a possible deal with GM Brian Cashman, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Maxwell is out of options and could be available in trades before Opening Day.
- Andrew Simon explores the risks and rewards of long-terms deals for unproven players in a piece for MLB.com. Left-hander Matt Moore thought his options over carefully before signing long-term with the Rays this offseason. "Matt came at it from a very, very intellectual standpoint, and we gave him all the information," agent Matt Sosnick said.
- Red Sox right-hander Vicente Padilla said through a translator that he would prefer to pitch in relief for Boston than go to another team, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter link).
- Chris Carpenter, the right-handed reliever who joined the Red Sox as compensation for Theo Epstein, will undergo surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com writes.
It was on this day in 1985 that the Blue Jays and Dave Stieb finalized one of the more unique contracts in baseball history -- an 11-year deal worth a guaranteed $16.6MM and (with incentives) possibly worth as much as $25MM. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times looked back at the contract in 2010, noting that while the Jays absorbed some criticism for the deal at the time, they got a bargain in the long run when Stieb developed into one of the best pitchers of his era. In 1991, the Jays reworked three years of the contract to pay Stieb an extra $4.35MM as a gesture of gratitude for his performance.
Here's some news from all around the AL East...
- Yankees closer Mariano Rivera denied a New York Post report from yesterday that claimed he would announce his possible retirement plans before the All-Star Break. Rivera told Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York that "nothing's changed" about his future plans and that he will "tell everybody what my plans are at the same time after the season."
- Brian Roberts isn't sure when, or even if, he'll be able to return to the Orioles following a series of concussions, he tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Roberts says he has stopped trying to guess when he may be able to resume his career, though he notes that his recovery is "progressing" and he "has more good days than bad days."
- Rays southpaw Matt Moore tops Baseball America's preseason list of the top 20 rookies in the game. Moore is the only AL East representative on the list, though former Yankee prospect Jesus Montero (now with the Mariners) clocks in at the #3 position.
- "We need some guys to step up on our pitching staff," Red Sox GM Ben Cherington tells MLB.com's Ian Browne. The Sox will be looking at pitching or outfield depth as they conduct their usual scouting of other teams' Spring Training camps. Also in this in-depth interview, Cherington discusses his first winter as a general manager, the difficulty in parting with long-time Red Sox stars Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, and what he learned from Theo Epstein.
- The Blue Jays may be the only team that could be a fit for Derrek Lee, writes Fangraphs' Chris Cwik. Lee could be an alternative to Adam Lind at first if Lind struggles, or Lee could at least platoon if Lind again struggles to hit left-handed pitching. Though Cwik was pretty hesitant about Lee's chances of playing anywhere in the Majors in 2012, I'm not sure Toronto works as a landing spot either; the Jays have Edwin Encarnacion backing up at first, Travis Snider or Eric Thames as DH candidates, plus Ben Francisco and Rajai Davis as right-handed bench bats.
The Rays have authored another precedent-setting contract, locking up 22-year-old phenom Matt Moore for at least five years, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Moore has just 17 days of big league service time (plus ten innings in the postseason), but the Rays committed $14MM for Moore’s next five seasons. The contract is reminiscent of the Rays’ April 2008 commitment to Evan Longoria, but is the first of its kind for a pitcher. Moore’s guarantee is easily a record for a pitcher with less than a year’s service time, and it also tops any pitcher who signed with less than two years service. The Rays have club options covering Moore’s third arbitration year and first two free agent years. If those are exercised, the deal could be worth $37.5MM over eight years, and it could exceed $40MM with escalators. Moore is represented by Matt Sosnick along with Jon Pridie and Adam Karon of Sosnick Cobbe Sports.
My take: the contract makes sense for both sides. Moore is widely regarded as a future ace, with three plus pitches and a strikeout-heavy resume. But as a player who signed for $115K after being drafted in the eighth round in 2007, the guaranteed money would have been difficult to turn down. Though Longoria’s contract is considered the most team-friendly in baseball, it wasn’t without risk at the time it was signed. That risk is heightened for the Rays since Moore is a pitcher.
The Rays are unlikely to lose money on Moore’s contract. The worst case scenario is Moore missing significant time due to injury. For example, Brett Anderson signed a deal with the Athletics for a $12.5MM guarantee with just one year of service. With Anderson battling injuries since that deal was signed, the A’s might overpay by around $5MM for his first two arbitration years. They retain club options on his third arbitration year and first free agent season and could still come out ahead, but Anderson probably does not regret the contract. Sosnick Cobbe Sports has its own examples of “sure thing” starters whose careers were derailed, including Jesse Foppert and Dontrelle Willis.
Arbitration savings were a factor for the Rays, as paying $15MM for Moore’s three arbitration years could be a major bargain. An ace like the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw could receive $8MM for his first arbitration year alone in 2012, and there’s no telling how high the bar will be three years from now, when Moore would have been eligible. The Rays gain long-term cost certainty, something they lack with ace David Price. Perhaps more crucial for Tampa Bay is having club options on each of Moore’s first two free agent seasons at $10MM, with aces such as Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander requiring $20MM for free agent years on multiyear deals signed later in their careers. Getting three club options is a signature move for the Rays, as executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman accomplished the feat with previous deals for starters James Shields and Wade Davis.
Moore wasn’t going anywhere regardless of this contract, as he was under team control for a full six seasons. Still, there was a chance the Rays would have held him in the minors for part of 2012 with the intent of controlling him for a seventh year or avoiding Super Two status. This contract likely removes that scenario, making Moore a stronger candidate for the Rays’ Opening Day rotation and increasing the likelihood Shields, Davis, or Jeff Niemann is traded this offseason.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
The Rays' season is over, but Desmond Jennings and Matt Moore showed late this year that the 2012 edition of the team should once again feature electrifying talent. Even Tampa Bay players seem eager to see what Moore can do over the course of an entire season. One of them jokingly suggested to Yahoo's Jeff Passan that he'll take action if Moore isn't on the Rays' Opening Day roster next year.
"If they do that, I'll file a grievance," the player said.
Judging by Moore's minor league accomplishments and Major League success, he has earned the chance to continue pitching in the Majors. The 22-year-old lefty posted a 1.92 ERA with 12.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 155 minor league innings this year, solidifying his place as one of the top pitching prospects in the game. Minor league hitters weren't the only ones who struggled to hit Moore; in 19 1/3 MLB innings (regular season and playoffs combined), he replicated his minor league success, posting a 1.86 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.
It's no secret that the Rays are struggling financially. Owner Stuart Sternberg said the Rays' revenue and stadium situation is "untenable as a model going forward," so every dollar and year of control matters a great deal in Tampa Bay. If the upcoming collective bargaining agreement doesn't adapt the current rules regarding arbitration and free agent eligibility, there would be an incentive for Tampa Bay to keep Moore in the minor leagues for a month to start next year - it would delay his arrival on the free agent market.
He picked up 17 days of service time in 2011, which means he'll have a full year of service after 2012 if he spends 155 days or more on the MLB roster or DL next year (pending the upcoming CBA). The MLB season generally lasts a little more than 180 days, so the Rays could ensure that Moore falls short of 155 days by optioning him to Durham for a month or so. He doesn't appear to need the seasoning, but that month would delay his free agency by one year (from 2017 to 2018).
This is not to imply that service time will be the lone, or primary consideration for the Rays in 2012. There are even baseball related reasons for keeping Moore in the minors (limiting innings, the diminished importance of fifth starters in April). The Rays want to win and have a team capable of contending again next year, so service time isn't everything. Plus, if they cared that much about delaying arbitration payouts and free agency, they would never have called Moore up to begin with.
Injuries, offseason moves and the CBA will presumably influence the Rays decision as well as service time. But for a team that can't afford free agent aces, the idea of extending control over top homegrown arms will likely have appeal.
Here's the latest on the Rays as they continue their late push for the AL Wild Card...
- Joe Maddon said left-hander Matt Moore is "a possibility" to be called up later this month, tweets Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. The Rays will need an extra starter after they play a doubleheader against the Yankees on September 21. Besides Moore, southpaw Alex Torres is also being considered for the role. Moore is the consensus top pitching prospect in baseball and one of the top-rated prospects overall --- Baseball Prospectus and Keith Law had Moore ranked second behind only Bryce Harper, while Baseball America ranked Moore third behind Harper and Mike Trout.
- Also from Topkin, the Rays will need to make a move on the 40-man roster to make room for Russ Canzler, the International League MVP. Canzler and right-hander Dane De La Rosa will both be called up to Tampa Bay on Sunday.
- Earlier today, MLBTR's Mike Axisa looked at how Casey Kotchman's breakout season will impact his stock on the free agent market.